Voyazides & Hadfield steal Masters Gentlemen Drivers win from Gans/Wolfe in last-corner overtake at the Nürburgring
Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield snatched the Masters Gentlemen Drivers win at the Nürburgring from the seemingly firm grasp of Michael Gans and Andy Wolfe when in an epic intra-AC Cobra battle Hadfield outbraked and passed Wolfe around the outside into the chicane on the final lap.
The race changed face when on lap 22 the safety car was called to remove the Nick Sleep/Joel Wykeham Shelby Mustang GT350. Wykeham had parked the car on the inside of the chicane after its left-front wheel had collapsed. Hadfield was a distant fourth at the time, with Wolfe holding a sizeable lead over the two front-running CLP-class Lotus Elans of Nicolai Kjaergaard and Rob Fenn. As soon as the field was released again, Hadfield passed both Elans in two subsequent corners and chased after Wolfe, negating a four-second deficit in four laps before successfully completing his last-gasp do-or-die pass.
Yes, the safety-car ploy worked again!” Hadfield laughed, still buzzing from his last-gasp overtake. “All the way from up the hill he was quite legitimately covering, covering, covering, and I knew he would cover the chicane. So I just went for it on the outside – there’s always run-off… and pulled it off. That was the best for a long time! And it’s great for the boys – they changed the engine overnight. The car was absolutely perfect.
“I screwed up the safety-car restart”, Wolfe said ruefully. “It was all my fault, I just had brainfade. It shouldn’t have happened.”
In the first half of the race, Gans stormed away from pole to open up a 16-second lead in the approach to the pit window. Initially, Rob Fenn was second but on lap 9, Kjaergaard’s rival Elan was past. Meanwhile, Chris Chiles Jr passed both to move the AC Cobra he shared with his father up to second, almost equalling Gans’ laptimes once he was there. Further back, Voyazides had made its way up to fifth from a fourth-row start. In qualifying, the car had not been running well, and it was decided to change the engine overnight. This transformed the car’s pace but the Greek was still 35 seconds down on Gans.
After the stops, Wolfe led Kjaergaard by 12 seconds, with Fenn a further six seconds behind. Over half a minute away were Chiles Sr, Ron Maydon’s Ginetta G4R and Hadfield, the latter already setting fastest laps of the race. He was up in fourth when the safety car was deployed. Two laps later, the green flag was waved, after which the crowd witnessed Hadfield’s inspired chase of Wolfe’s similar AC Cobra. His latest-of-the-late-brakers move around the outside was equally inspired and the black Cobra crossed the line inches ahead of the dark-green example…
In their wake, Kjaergaard held Fenn at bay to copy his 2017 Oldtimer Grand Prix result.
Yes, the same result!”, said a well-satisfied Kjaergaard who repeated his class win and third overall at last year’s Oldtimer Grand Prix. “I started sixth but soon after the start I was first in class. The safety car made it a bit difficult. I enjoyed the fight with Rob, it was quite close, especially at the beginning.
“It was like doing qualifying laps all race!” said Fenn. “He kept doing me under the brakes so once he was past there was nothing I could do…”
The front-row-starting TVR Griffith of local drivers Christopher Stahl and Oliver Mathai clawed its way back up to fifth after Stahl spun in the first corner after the start. The Germans were followed home by the Chris Chiles Sr & Jr Cobra and Ron Maydon whose Ginetta G4R took third in the CLP class.
It was fantastic”, said Mathai. “This was the first outing for the TVR, I had a difficult time with the brakes. Christopher had an unfortunate spin in the first corner so we were lucky with the safety car, that allowed us to catch up. Those overtaking moves at the end were big fun.
“Enjoyable…” said Maydon when asked about his race. “I was battling throughout. I had endless fights, and didn’t win one of them. God knows how I ended up on the podium!”
Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger (Morgan SLR) decided a tense C2-class battle in their favour while Uwe Brutschnik/Robert Haug (Porsche 911) won the C1 class. John Burton’s E-type and the Urs & Arlette Müller Aston Martin DB4 GT swapped places all race in their fight for B2 class honours, with Burton prevailing in the end.